Thursday, January 26, 2012



My sisters didn’t argue with me when I said I would like to have Mother’s collection of vintage magazines, and I couldn’t believe they weren’t interested. The seeds of my love for these old ideas were sown in childhood, though I didn’t realize the depth of my love. I didn’t even realize that I was becoming a collector of works on vintage homemaking arts as I carried boxes of needlework and specialty magazines from the old family home.

I don’t think my mother considered herself a collector of vintage magazines. She just bought what she liked – and kept it. But – she was definitely a collector of vintage booklets. I am following in her footsteps and am indebted to her for her foresight. She would laugh if she knew.
As I moved into retirement, I found myself wanting more of these vintage ideas. I began to selectively invest in an old book here, a magazine there.

A few years ago, I ordered a vintage pattern from an online seller, and she included an unexpected bonus in the package  – three issues of “Modern Priscilla.” It was very generous of her, I thought, and some months later she passed away. I couldn’t help but wonder if she was deliberately reducing her stock by giving some things away.

Anyway, “Modern Priscilla” was a homemaking and handwork magazine published from 1887 until 1930. (The publisher lost out in the Great Depression.) As I glanced through the January 1926 issue last week, I noticed an ad for “Clark’s O.N.T. Bag Book – 100 Designs for 10 Cents” for those who crochet and embroider. Buy from your dealer, read the ad, or send ten cents to the listed address and we’ll mail you a copy.

My curiosity immediately piqued, I searched for this pattern booklet online. Yes! I could have it for $10.00 plus shipping, and I had to have it! It came today, brightening a day when other plans had fallen through. I’m delighted with it.

Who knew they were making all these bags in 1925? Here are some of the categories:
Attractive Bags for the Business Woman
When Puzzled What to Give, Give a Bag
Afternoon Dress-up Bags that have Particular Charm
Laundry Bags that are Different
The Popular Utility Shopping Bag
The Kiddies Need Pretty Bags, Too
Gift Bags, Practical Bags, Bags of Great Beauty
Unusual Evening and Theatre Bags
For Hiking, Travel and School
Stunning Bags for Varied Uses
Work Bags Both Serviceable and Decorative
Bags for Household Use
Practical Shopping Bags and Hand Bags

Of course, some of the bags relate to obsolete uses. For example, I don’t need a bag for my corsets, a hiking knapsack that won’t hold a water bottle, or a laundry bag for my soiled collars. But, when it comes right down to it, a bag’s a bag. The crocheted briefcase looks for all the world like a laptop case. Evening bags are always useful. Unique handbags are in vogue again. And, of course, there’s the re-usable shopping bag.

I just might surprise everyone someday and make one or two of these bags. Until then – fascinating to look through this booklet. KW


Leah said...

Guess the crocheted bags of the past have been replaced with today's "Tote Bags." What's fun (& at the same time overwhelming) is how quickly you can collect a closet full of tote bags. Go to a street fair, join a book club, get a credit card & your free gift is a tote bag. Grocery stores want us to bring our own canvas bags, which is a great idea, if you have a short shopping list.

Maybe purses are 2nd cousins of tote bags, but most certainly crocheted bags are 1st cousins.

Things we carry evolve in time. Kids carried books in their arms when I was in school. Then kids carried backpacks. Today, the kids at a nearby grade school use briefcases on wheels. So glad to see that change. Heavy backpacks are hard to carry for little sprouts.

Kathy, I admire your respect for the vintage magazines. Handmade things are unusual in today's world. Reading these magazines put you "in the mood," if nothing else. Enjoying old magazines is an added bonus. Writing was much different 100 years ago. Subtly wasn't practiced by writers in the past. Men were men & women were women.

drMolly, the BeanQueen said...

Oh I am so jealous and glad for you at the same time Kathy. What luck! I have a vew vintage booklets, too, that I hold dear, but do not have the fortune of getting any from my mum as she does not/did not collect them. I just have the good fortune of having her still here to talk with about crafting and all sorts of things.

Kathy said...

"Things we carry evolve in time" -- another interesting aspect of changing times. And then we forget. I couldn't help but wonder what one would carry in the flat hiking knapsack.

My family had quite the collection of give-away tote bags in the '80s (and T-shirts). I think that's changing, too. This is the first year that delegates to our state P.E.O. convention must provide their own tote bags.

And bags are evolving again. Portland banned plastic sacks, then Seattle, and now Washington state is considering such a ban.

I envy you your visits with your mom, Molly. My parents passed when they were elderly, but I was a late-life child.

Hallie said...

Old magazines are fun. I really enjoyed reading the 1930s or 40s Better Homes and Gardens (is that what it was)? It's interesting to see how much hasn't changed and how much HAS changed.

Kathy said...

Hallie, you probably mean the December 1936 issue of Good Housekeeping I picked up before Christmas. I had been wishing for a magazine from the '30s and found it locally.

Chris said...

Oops, sorry to be late getting on this post. We missed you at embroidery club, but I'm glad a treat showed up in your mail to brighten your day. I love packages!

Next month's club will be "do what you want" so you can still do the candle mats!